Sep 22, 2011, 11:10 PM EDT
In what the NHL calls a “stupid and ignorant” display of racism, at least one fan threw a banana at black Philadelphia Flyers winger Wayne Simmonds during a shootout attempt tonight. Simmonds still managed to score on his attempt, although the Flyers ended up losing that preseason game to the Detroit Red Wings in front of a neutral-site crowd in London, Ontario.
It’s possible that this wasn’t the only time a fan attempted to throw a banana at Simmonds during the game, either. Brian Floyd passes along a fan’s note that someone tried to hit Simmonds with one late in the third period when he scored a 3-3 goal to send the contest to overtime, but that attempt fell short.
Sam Carchidi caught up with Simmonds following the game, who confirmed that it happened but said he didn’t want to make a big deal about it. Here’s a little more from Simmonds on what must have been a strange moment.
“I don’t know if it had anything to do with the fact I’m black,” the Toronto native said. “I certainly hope not. When you’re black, you kind of expect (racist) things. You learn to deal with it.”
Simmonds acknowledged the banana rattled him, and his only thought was to get off a shot — which went in for the Flyers’ only score in the shootout.
“It shocked me and knew I had to keep going and get a shot off,” he said. “It was certainly unusual.”
Simmonds deserves credit for shaking it off in such a professional way, but the fan (or fans) should be ashamed for that revolting act. To add an extra level of sadness to an already awful situation, Simmonds is a Scarborough, Ontario native.
Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time hockey fans have thrown bananas at a black hockey player. Former Carolina Hurricanes goalie Kevin Weekes dealt with the racial epithet during a 2002 series against the Montreal Canadiens.
As far as exchanges between opponents, it’s impossible to know how many slurs fly around during trash talking sessions, although there was at least once incident in which the matter became public. Georges Laraque accused Sean Avery of calling him a “monkey” in 2005, a claim that Avery denied.
Naturally, hockey isn’t the only sport in which fans interact with black players in such a way. (Soccer fans have a reputation of doing so, for example.) That doesn’t make it any less disturbing, especially since it’s far from uncommon to see black players in prominent roles now. Groundbreaking players such as Willie O’Ree and Grant Fuhr have made way for an impressive wave of stars, from Jarome Iginla to Evander Kane and Dustin Byfuglien.
Obviously, such a ghastly display of racism is discouraging – it’s 2011, after all – but hopefully this will just be an ugly, isolated incident.
Update (10:15 am ET): NHL commissioner Gary Bettman released the following statement regarding the incident.
“We have millions of great fans who show tremendous respect for our
players and for the game. The obviously stupid and ignorant action by one
individual is in no way representative of our fans or the people of London,
Jul 22, 2014, 12:15 PM EDT
How ’bout that headline for some alliteration.
Jul 22, 2014, 10:57 AM EDT
His name is Kyle Dubas.
Jul 22, 2014, 10:40 AM EDT
Click for the full schedule of games on NBC and NBCSN.
Jul 22, 2014, 10:19 AM EDT
Had 14 goals and 15 assists, with 209 PIM, in 2013-14.
Jul 22, 2014, 10:01 AM EDT
Excited to join “the toughest team” the Leafs played last season,
Jul 22, 2014, 9:00 AM EDT
They didn’t make any big splashes this summer.
Jul 22, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT
That and all the links to start your day.
Jul 21, 2014, 10:45 PM EDT
He does know what the advanced stats say though.
Jul 21, 2014, 9:30 PM EDT
More depth for a Stanley Cup hopeful.
Jul 21, 2014, 8:25 PM EDT
Trade rumors around the Jets star never stop swirling.
Jul 21, 2014, 7:20 PM EDT
Mike Johnston is going out of his way to know his players.
Jul 21, 2014, 6:04 PM EDT
But hasn’t been charged with a crime.
Jul 21, 2014, 5:25 PM EDT
Edmonton’s 2014 first-round pick wants to stick around right away.
Jul 21, 2014, 4:20 PM EDT
He becomes an unrestricted free agent if he isn’t signed by Aug. 15.
Jul 21, 2014, 3:18 PM EDT
(He’s the tall one in the middle.)
Jul 21, 2014, 2:21 PM EDT
“That’s an exciting guy to watch.”
Jul 21, 2014, 1:20 PM EDT
“There are many reasons, but I do not want to go into details,” she said in a statement.
Jul 21, 2014, 12:26 PM EDT
The Rangers countered with a two-year deal at $2.05M per.
Jul 21, 2014, 11:24 AM EDT
Avoiding arbitration in the process.
Jul 21, 2014, 11:06 AM EDT
Yeah, this one’s going to arbitration.
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